Kochi: Fort Kochi, the first European settlement in the country, was fast losing its charm what with dirty beaches and untidy premises leading up to the heritage structures driving tourists away.
However, a determined Fort Kochi Sub-Collector S. Suhas promises a turnaround, the efforts for which have already started. “We’ve put in place a permanent mechanism. One major headache was the littering of plastics and other wastes all over the heritage zone. We’ve roped in 21 staff from the Kudumbashree for cleaning round the year. This is besides the nearly 20 cleaning staff to be deployed by the District Tourism Promotion Council and the Kochi Corporation, also on a permanent basis,” said Mr Suhas, who is also DTPC secretary.
As a temporary measure, the official is co-ordinating a massive cleaning campaign covering heritage structures such as the Vasco Da Gama Square, walkway around the beach, the area around the water tank and the heritage streets.
“Around 500 volunteers, including students of various educational institutions, will engage in a massive one-day cleaning drive on June 5, World Environment Day. After that the challenge is to maintain the cleanliness,” the officer said.
For that, the authorities are planning a permanent monitoring system under which closed-circuit television units will be installed at all vital points. This would help in reining in anti-social elements besides ensuring that the cleaning staff do their duty.
“However, it’s finally up to the individuals to keep the premises of their houses and commercial establishments clean. On May 25 last, I held a meet with the shop and other commercial establishment owners who promised to keep their premises tidy all around the year,” Mr Suhas said.
“A change can be witnessed already. They have cleaned up the entire beach, removing the weeds and other wastes deposited on the beaches. However, a lot more needs to be done and care should be given to sustain the drive throughout the year, not limiting to short campaigns,” said Mr Michael Joseph, a local.